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Dogs Gone Wild

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 09:00 PM

Howling statue Howling statue (pjguyton2002/flickr)

In this short, a family dog disappears into the woods...and the mystery of what happened to him raises a big question about what it means to be wild.

In our New Normal episode, we talked to evolutionary biologist Brian Hare about what happens to animals when they get domesticated. In this podcast, we turn that question around and wonder about the remnants of wildness in our household pets.

When Lulu Miller first heard the call of coyotes as a teenager at her family’s cabin in Cape Cod, she loved the sound—it was a thrilling taste of a world that hadn’t been tamed. But one night, she and her family came back to the cabin to find that their much loved, and very domesticated, terrier Charlie was missing. When they called him, they heard a loud yelp from the forest, followed by a chorus of howls ... and never saw Charlie again.

Lulu and our producer Soren Wheeler talk to Brian Hare about what he thinks might've happened to Charlie and ask him whether a domestic animal can ever really return to the wild. To explain, he tells them the strange tale of the New Guinea Singing Dogs. 




Brian Hare, Ph.D.


Lulu Miller


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Comments [73]

David from Omaha, NE

I just heard this for the first time. I don't get it at all. (I'm paraphrasing) "we heard Charlie cry" and "in the morning there was nothing -- nothing left". WTF! Do you people not possess flashlights? I've lived both where there are and aren't coyotes, and if I was worried in any way about a pet (I've always had cats, often dogs too) -- I'd be out there looking for them, and I'd take a gun with me. I'm not an NRA type, but I do have a shotgun, and I'd try to kill any coyote that is attacking my pet.

Oct. 12 2016 01:54 PM
Stan B. from New Jersey

I can't believe how many of you sympathized with Lulu Miller and her family. This story sickened me. It was all the more disgusting because Ms. Miller has made a name for herself telling this story over and over again on NPR and other outlets, coming across as “cute” and “smart.” I find her and her story anything but. The Miller family knew coyotes were in the neighborhood and everyone in town had been warned not to let their pets out at night.

Poor little Charlie's last thought, before he was disemboweled by the coyotes, was NOT, "Yay, I'm wild!" Thinking this is incredibly naïve… and self-serving. No, Charlie felt the sheer terror of knowing he was doomed, the intense pain of being literally eaten alive, and... the utter disbelief that his human pack was not there to protect him!

The Miller family should not take solace in the fact that Charlie had achieved his inner wild, which he did not. They should spend the rest of their lives with the guilt of what they let happen to their defenseless, domesticated dog, generations removed from his wild wolf ancestors. They left him outside, by himself. Charlie died a painful death… alone. I can think of no worse way to go, especially for an animal that craves to be with others. I will not celebrate his death. I will curse his uncaring human owners.

Oct. 10 2016 11:35 PM
Bradley M from Sask

I used to have a half german shepherd x timber wolf dog. We bought him from the city (LoL) for $200. My mom bought him, and saw the parents. The father was pissed and was chained up in the backyard, the mother was calm and off chain. We named him Max, because we were staying with my auntie Maxine. First time alone from his family, Max howled and cried all night until my mom stayed with him in the porch. Puppies normally have a soft little nose, but Max had a hard nose and huge paws for a pup and shades of grey in his course coat, but he had an outgoing dog personality and wasnt shy of people like real wolves. He was hard to handle but my mom used to train and breed doberman pinchers, and she was the main handler. He grew up on a farm, with my cousins black lab x german shepherd mix named Bear. He played well with Bear until feeding time, and then Max would fight Bear for dominance. My dad or mom would have to break them up, and chain up Max so Bear could eat. I recall walking with my cousin, she was on her little bike, and both dogs were playing. Bear ran full speed past my cousin, and Max jumped right over my cousins head and went off to go play in the yard. My uncle shot a beaver, and left it in the barn to skin it later. Both dogs dug their way in and ate the beaver. A while later, both dogs killed and ate a different beaver from the river near by the farm. I remember pulling up to the farm in a different vehicle, and MAx stood there with his head hanging low, looking at us with those piercing wolfy eyes. Once he recognized us, he came running at us so happy to see us, rolling into his back at my moms feet. He retained that guarding behaviour from his mom, but would never bark. He was sort of dangerous because there would be no warning, just a silent approach and intent focus and snap. He almost bit a friend of the family, but didnt get the chance to because my mom spotted him looking fishy. My parents only chained up MAx when it was feeding time, and left him off the chain for the rest of the time. He used to leave the farm for days and come back home later. He grew independent and went off looking for a girl friend probably, and there would be howling wolves or coyotes at night. We left the farm, and went to the city for a weekend event. When we came back home, the house was broken into things were missing, and MAx and Bear were gone. We knew there was a wolf pack in the area, as we lived on the edge of were the boreal forest started in Saskatchewan; but there was also bears, cougars, moose, elk in the area. They were both uncut males, and were about 5 years old. My mom said he went off to be wild, but I heard them say to each other that they thought someone shot both dogs and they ran off to die in the forest. But there was no blood or empty cartridges or any trace of them, only tire tracks. He was a very cool wolf dog. I dont really know what happened to either dog. This podcast reminded me of old Max and Bear.

Sep. 11 2015 01:54 PM
Loreli E. Bond from Unites States

I enjoyed this podcast. Several things came to mind; one was a huge question. What happens when we domesticize animals? Do they all have the capability to cause harm when their wild side unleashes? We have dogs, cats, horses, snakes and other animals at our houses and I wonder what would happen if they all took a leap toward the wild side. People would come to harm, I'm sure. This story is striking not only because of the bizarreness of the dog that disappeared, but of the domestic dogs that have turned wild and "howl" with high pitched wails at night; much like a small winey dog would do. That is eerie to me, that dogs would leave their homes to join a pack and over thousands of years become wild again. Overall, I love dogs and this was a very interesting side of them that I have never though of until now.

Jan. 24 2015 10:47 AM
Upton C Gatsby from Florida

I LOVE DOGS! Im happy that over thousands of years our ancestors made wolfs more docile and happy, but I dont think we can ever fully breed out the "wolf" from the dog. Think about it. People still get bit by dogs and attacked by packs all the time. I think that we can only make them less aggressive but never fully.

Jan. 20 2015 12:34 AM
Gertrude N. Poe from Florida

This story of the pet who wanted to become wild is very interesting. Even though at the end, they said he wouldn't have just joined the pack, it's nice to think he got his wish and became wild. The speaker did a great job telling the story, from start to finish about the importance of Charlie to her family. It makes the listener feel as though they were apart of this family and personally knew Charlie, and feels sad when the speaker talks about the sounds that the dog makes and how he doesn't come back. This is an overall very captivating story, I even learned a few things about foxes and wolves I didn't know before.

Nov. 03 2014 04:48 PM
Keats A. Dunbar from United States

This podcast was very interesting and also very emotional. The story about Charlie and the tone of the narrators voice made it pretty hard to listen to without getting sad. The narrator used pathos much to her advantage to keep the audience listening. She also used great imagery when talking about the wolves walking across the bridge as a silhouette with a white moon in the background. It was also very scary to think about one pack of wolves reproducing to great numbers and taking over a place that there was never any in the first place.

Nov. 03 2014 04:45 PM
Deborah G from Saginaw, MI

Here's the picture:

Jun. 10 2014 08:16 PM

Where can I see a photo of Charlie?

Jun. 10 2014 05:23 PM
Martha from the car

Deeply touching and evocative for this dog lover.

Thank you.

Jun. 07 2014 12:59 PM
Nick from Sterling Heights, mi

Where can I find the picture of the dog?

Jun. 06 2014 02:49 PM
Janaynay from Florida

I think deep down every animal has an inner "wildness." Yes the "wildness" is bred out of them but deep down every dog or animal has natural instincts, no matter how friendly or trained the animal is. My dog wouldn't hurt a fly. You can stick your hand in his food bowl, pull his tail, take his bone, but if he felt threatened there is no doubt in my mind that his inner animal would come out and he would bite. Would he be able to survive in the wild? I am not sure. But I believe he would have a chance. Just like the foxes changed over time and became domestic, I think domestic animals would change and become wild.

Apr. 03 2014 07:29 PM
Karthik from Plano TX

The content for this show was certainly lacking. Nice story but had nothing to do with domesticated dogs going wild or can they go wild.
Being from India, it is very common to hear dogs being taken by bigger game (leopards particularly). Also there are millions or feral dogs that live in the edge human settlements and have every opportunity to go wild. I haven't heard of any stories of dogs cutting off ties with humans though.
Jim Corbett has some great anecdotes of his own dog and encounters with feral dogs during his quest to hunt down man eaters In India. It seems dogs are always comfortable on the human side of the equation.

Oct. 18 2013 12:42 PM

Lulu, I'm so sorry you lost your dog.

Kindest regards,


Jan. 02 2013 10:57 PM

This happened to my dog, Mc Muffin in Tacoma, Washington. There were a couple of coyote sightings that spring but we lived in a very residential area so it was kind of shocking. In her case, it was very clear that she was killed and my dad saw a single coyote afterwords . She was an older dog and similarly to Lulu I have always thought of this as her blaze of glory moment. Thanks for the story.
دواء و علاج

Jul. 27 2012 07:31 PM
Cabin Rentals BC from canada

This is beautiful picture of dog. From where you have capture this photo of this animal. Can you tell me? Cabin Rentals BC

Jun. 25 2012 12:57 AM

It has been my experience that some dogs, at least, will and do run with coyotes given the chance. Even domestic dogs.

I lived with a branch of my family with whom I was not very close. This was during my high school years. They had a number of dogs--most of them were dogs that lived with the goats and watched the herd, and the "house dogs."

But they also had a mutt who was semi-feral. He liked some people (he liked me) but his cringing nature had not made him a favourite of his owners or the neighbors, and their borderline abuse of him made him uneasy around people and difficult to control. He was not aggressive. He was only wary of most humans. In every other respect he was a domestic dog. I would pet him and play fetch with him and he ate out of bowls shared with the other dogs.

But when coyotes began descending on the neighbors' calves and goats, we emerged one night with a gun and a spotlight to help them defend their herd and there, among the scattering coyotes, was our mutt with blood on his jaw, weaving in and out among them.

I don't know if this was an isolated incident or if he regularly descended on the calves with the coyotes. He certainly did not run with the coyotes save for hunting.

I cried the day they put him down (you can't have a dog eating cows on farmland, and you can't adopt out a dog who's terrified of humans). I didn't think it was fair.

Anyway, ever since that day I've been skeptical of the claims that regular dogs can't or won't run with wild dogs or wolves or coyotes. Maybe the mutt was already halfway there due to his upbringing, but I wonder, often, if given the time he might just slip away with them forever after a night of hunting.

It would have been a preferable end to the one he received.

Mar. 01 2012 12:37 PM
polok from uk
Mar. 01 2012 10:25 AM
Liz from Western US

I dispute the claim that coyotes are not group animals. There is a pack (for lack of a better term) of coyotes living out in a nearby field. I actually have cellphone videos of them howling in a group, with one of them trying to lure my Labrador towards them. (I don't know if they will kill him, but you never know.) This wasn't a one time occurrence, this has happened over a dozen times just this year.

Feb. 25 2012 11:29 PM
oualid from *

Thank you, Meredith, for a great event. We’re so glad the fundraiser was so successful and will benefit both the shelter and park. We appreciate all the hard work you put into this. I know that Darby and I had a great time, and everyone else did, too.
Congratulations on a very successful event!!

Jan. 31 2012 04:30 PM
Randy Kerr

I hated the story. But the worst part was the writter talks about her dog delighting in his being eaten alive. Sick.

Jan. 28 2012 11:12 PM
Greg from St. Louis, MO

This story is told so well, it gives me chills. Even though the expert explains what most likely happened, I prefer to imagine Charlie going out in a "blaze of glory."

Jan. 22 2012 01:31 PM
Kodulehe Tegemine

I think dogs are really good friend of human. It’s not clear for me yet why are they going to be wild? They should be free, not in showcase and the nature have some rules, and we should follow those if we don’t so we have to suffer along with that.kodulehe tegemine

Jan. 11 2012 08:48 AM
anonomouys guy

Sad story, if they come close enough to mess with your dog you should invest in a 12 gauge. The loud noise can scare a lot of animals off, and the lead can persuade those who aren't scared to "play dead" Of course this means either having the gun within reach when an indecent occurs, or removing dog mauling 'yotes from the population afterward. at any rate the beasts will soon redevelop their fear of humanity.

Oct. 09 2011 03:59 PM
Jim from Oregon

Interesting story that highlights an occurance that happens all over the U.S., particularly in the west. Coyote predation on domestic pets is common and well known. When I studied the urban ecology of raptors living in Tucson, I documented hundreds of examples. Your expert, Dr. Hare, said some surprising things. First he implied that coyotes have no developed social system and are essentially solitary. Anyone living with coyotes knows this isn't true, coyotes can hunt solo but are usually seen in twos and threes or more. Second he suggested that coyotes don't take small dogs and cats in developed environments. Having examined many partial carcasses of pets, I can only wonder how he missed the boat so badly on one of the most common canids on North America. I agree that stories of coyotes luring dogs out to their death are urban myth. They don't need to. A coyote can jump an eight foot fence, take a small dog, and remove it to a more isolated location to feed. Often two of them tear the carcass in half as they go. Its a food source for them, plain and simple. Its not necessary to contrive explanations like a mother defending her pups to account for the incident. Coyotes are an interesting part of our world and the show performed a service by reminding people to protect their pets and not leave them unattended outside at night or in early morning. Having stood in backyards with weeping pet owners on several ocassions, I'm glad you took time to explore the philosophical aspects of how people deal with this kind of loss (and guilt). Nice work but be more careful in your selection of experts.

Sep. 25 2011 11:47 AM
Nicole from Stuttgart, Germany

I've just seen this video and that reminded me of the podcast posted... "can a dog go back to being 'wild'...?"
I wonder what this puppy heard...

Sep. 15 2011 03:09 PM

This story was heartbreaking and disturbing beyond belief! I can understand why the owners of this poor terrier want to IMAGINE that he went out in a moment of glory, but the truth is that he was surely terrified beyond belief before and while suffering a gruesome and violent death. This is not a cute story or a funny story or a beautiful story or a romantic story. It is a heart-wrenching, horrible story about a family's inability to properly care for an animal that loved and depended on them. Please don't try to make it something it wasn't: the coyotes did not give Charlie a nod of respect before tearing out his innards, not did Charlie's chest swell with pride that he was at last among his peers. Would you say such a thing about human being kidnapped and gruesomely murdered? Of course not!

Sep. 10 2011 06:06 PM
David Henderson from Columbia, Mo

I empathize with commentors being upset about hearing about someone's pet dog being killed and eaten by coyotes.

I would like to suggest that maybe Charlie was simply stolen by a human, and not killed.

There was absolutely no physical evidence found that supported this idea, and of course there would be some.

The yelp may have been coyotes fighting.

Anyway, just some wishful thinking.

Sep. 07 2011 09:48 PM
josh from charleston

Nature is nature, many things happen that might not be so joyful. But we all understand suffering. It's not so easy to put ourselves in a cage with protective walls and pretend that suffering cannot still happen. We should not try and place blame so easily. I think many times our wild nature is closer than we think. It doesn't take 5,000 years.

Sep. 01 2011 01:47 AM
Flip Schrameijer from Netherlands

The personal story about the dog was great, moving, evocative, but the backgroundstory on dogs, mmm. Not so good. They've been with us for a lot longer than 5000 years, wikipedia says 15.000, but even that number may be an understimation. I saw a great BBC-documentary omn dogs, of which the bottomline was: without people no dogs (not surprising), but without dogs no people (spectaular). So plase do another one about dogs and evolution etc.

Aug. 25 2011 02:02 PM

The real question is why this podcast is the third most commented on when you click on most commented, (at least today it is) but it's not a full episode and it's not on the most viewed or listened to lists. The obsession of Americans with there pets, and the amount of discussion anything involving animal violence raises, is an interesting phenomenon. There is a diversity of opinion on the topic, but why is there so much opinion compared to other topics? In other cultures dogs are food. I wonder what our obsession with the quality of life of domestic animals says about our own feelings of living in a modern society. Maybe it's as simple as a lot of imaginative people owning pets, so animal violence stories make them think in terms of something they personally care for. Too bad human causes like ending the use of conflict resources, don't have adorable personal emotional representatives in the homes of the wealthier nations.

Aug. 23 2011 03:58 PM
Sarah Lipscomb from Colorado

I have to agree with Monica- this podcast is horrible and does hurt and perpetuate the unhealthy stereotypes about dogs.

I work with the ASPCA and find this rationalization very similar to the mentality of people who abandon their dogs.

I am surprised you would include a story like this in your podcast. This is not science. This is fiction, and would be better suited to This American Life, but I don't think they'd even air this story. It's garbage. Traumatizing and not the truth.

Aug. 23 2011 12:50 PM
MM from CC from Cape Cod, MA

While I think Lulu did a very nice job telling her story, the story itself made me feel sick to my stomach. I am also from Cape Cod and because we know there are coyotes around we never leave our dogs outside at night without supervising them (and our dogs are a husky and a large mixed breed- much less likely to be attacked than a little white terrier). I just couldn't make myself agree with Lulu and her family that her dog would have felt wild and free in the end... and the thought of the terror that dog went through when he was so close to being saved by his family has made my heart ache. I do not think such a sad story was necessary to illustrate the point of whether dogs could ever return to the wild. Please warn me in the future if you are going to break my heart.

Aug. 21 2011 09:32 PM
Monica M.

Lulu, you are an idiot. You are a symbol of everything that is wrong with pet abandonment. This mythos of "well, pet dogs WANT to be wild" is why people who are tired of having a pet drive them to the countryside to abandon them.

Radiolab, shame on you for perpetuating this myth. I have adopted two dogs that others have "abandoned" because they "want to be wild" and let me tell you, they're no more wild than you or me.

Lulu, your family was directly responsible for your dog's death. You left him outside the house when you knew wild coyotes were eating other pets? Negligence. There's nothing romantic about this story. It's YOU wanting to change the past and romanticize it.

Radiolab, I've donated in the past, but you won't get a cent from me for the next year. This piece was very offensive and downright harmful to those who try and perpetuate healthy animal adoption.

Aug. 19 2011 12:56 PM

I am surprised by all the negative comments here. This was a wonderful episode of Radiolab, as usual. I too am a dog lover (I have 3!), and the story about Charlie made made my heart sink, but only for a moment. That story was the jump-off point for the rest of the episode. It is hard to imagine that someone would actually stop listening and sulk about something that happens all the time. In my neighborhood, if someone puts up a "Lost Dog" sign, there is a very, very good chance that it was eaten by a coyote or some other animal (we have wolves, hawks, eagles, all sorts of predators). It happens. It happened to my best friend, my neighbor, lots of people. It doesn't make it less sad, but I agree with the narrator of the story, it returns a dog to the natural world. As we heard in an earlier Radiolab, cats have an "on/off" switch in their brain that switches depending on whether they are inside or outside. Perhaps dogs have this in some lesser form.

I find it funny when people commenting on Radiolab disagree with the experts, like the person who had ONE experience seeing coyotes together, therefore the literal EXPERT on coyotes just has be wrong. Right. Someone who has dedicated there life to the study of coyotes is wrong about coyotes, because you, some random person has seen one example of something that differs from his statement. Well played.

Aug. 14 2011 03:32 PM
David from North Carolina

Um ... where's the list of music used in this, or any, program? I really really really liked the percussive piece at the end of this story. I usually find and buy when I use two "really's." TIA.

Aug. 08 2011 02:09 PM

I totally disagree with the "expert" quoted in this piece that said coyotes don't work in teams to hunt. I've seen them work together to lure-in their victims .

Aug. 04 2011 04:05 PM
jimmy in tc

Go Lulu, you rock. I was suprised to read the negativity and weakness of the other listeners, don't warn us it would have blown it. This short was awesome and chilling.

Jul. 15 2011 02:42 AM

That is really an awful story about a domestic dog being killed, I cannot believe that radiolab got this so wrong. How does this show any insight into the question being asked? The issue of consciousness is an important one. I agree with other comments that a warning that this violence without purpose is upcoming.

Jul. 09 2011 02:55 PM
April from Wash dc

Bad show. Bad judgement.
My sense is that the writer knew little about dogs; most of the speculation about what her dog was thinking, and feeling seemed, well, ill-informed, to put it politely.

Jun. 24 2011 07:01 PM

A terrified dog, a horrific death.
Being eaten by wild animals is no idealized stage at all! My two children had nightmares after listening to this. Please warn us.

Jun. 21 2011 01:47 AM
Sahil from Chicago, IL

There's a really amazing album by Ben Frost called By the Throat that features a great many wolf howls. It manages to both connect us to our primitive selves while simultaneously scaring the goshness outta us. Highly recommended.

Jun. 16 2011 03:04 PM

On Yahoo News this morning:

I think all animals have some "leftover" instincts, just like we do. Afterall, why do we all stare at campfires?

Jun. 11 2011 02:06 PM

A "rewarding experience for Charlie"? Huh? A senior dog bred to be raised in a domestic setting, one that lived in that setting all his life, probably a purebred? A dog habituated to that setting as a result of not just his 13-year lifetime but thousands of years of domestication and selective breeding? Really now. How frightened do you think he was at the moment of his death, while he fought to survive? Throw yourself back in time long ago -- just imagine yourself as a "evolved" human face-to-face with an early homo sapien, one kind of needing to eat and feed the kids. Do you feel the joy and thrill of the encounter? The death? Right. And the "wild" canines that attacked Charlie -- why did they attack him? What human conditions created the context for the "attack" -- inflammatory language itself for the undomesticated (unnatural) version of an almost "pure" species being consistently eradicated from its natural environment by human development and sprawl and "pest" eradication with no forethought or long-range plan. The "wild" canids, whatever they were, were not Charlie's kind anymore. He had been changed by years of selective breeding to something else. Don't mean to sound like the stereotypical animal wacko. And the problem I had with the Charlie story is not the violence, though the drama was a little overdone, drawn-out, verging right on the very edge of the gratuitous sensationalism. Stop romanticizing domestic dogs, a product of human interference with thousands of years of serving and identifying with humans, creatures sculpted by humans (and, yes, loved) into physical shapes and cognitive realities that are false to the prototype. Charlie did not have the desire to be wild. He did not have "one shiny moment." Or maybe he did. The shiny moment when he saw teeth tear into him. This was a poor, sensational report, not worthy of Radiolab.

Jun. 07 2011 10:42 PM

I love the way she tells stories. I could literally just listen to her talk ALL. DAY. LONG. <33

Jun. 07 2011 04:08 PM

I really enjoy the song that ends the "Dogs Gone Wild" piece, but can't find a mention of the name. Could someone provide a title and artist? I really hope the howls are a part of the original piece. If not, how about releasing a remix. :)

Jun. 05 2011 09:47 PM
Katusha from Seattle, WA

The story about building a bus stop at a home for people with Alzheimer was so unusual and interesting.
It is reassuring to hear about people solving complex problems in simple ways. Thanks.

Jun. 03 2011 11:27 PM
Alison from Seattle

I would like to repeat a comment already posted. I absolutely love radiolab, but I was caught completely off-guard by the awful story of a dog being eaten by coyotes. I could not even finish listening to the story. I like to think there was a reason for going into detail about how coyotes like to play with domesticated dogs to lure it into a trap, but I never found out. Please warn us next time.

Jun. 01 2011 08:22 PM
Doug from bloomington, IN

the moment at the end imagining the dog in his last moments as a kind of "realization" of his "wildness" is interesting if you imagine that that moment is one of true terror (as we conceive it) or perhaps simply pure fear of pain/death--that moment then is "authentic being" primal and unsweatered by human inanity.

Jun. 01 2011 10:23 AM
Erica from NYC

I wish they'd warned us that there would be a terrible story of a dog - a dog who trusted its family to keep it safe - being eaten by coyotes, and suffering along the way. I cannot believe I got as far as I did before I wondered, WHY ON EARTH AM I LISTENING TO THIS? I normally love Radiolab, but I would have liked a warning on this.

May. 30 2011 09:09 PM
Cute Guy

Coast To Coast am is better then this short.

May. 28 2011 08:20 AM
cristina from brooklyn

what the heck?

i usually love radiolab and i've been listening since the beginning, but this story just goes a bit too off base into the personal. i could have done without all the drawn out details and waxing poetic about someone's family pet being eaten by coyotes. thankfully this short was saved when Brian Hare comes in and brings back a little of the science/biology that makes radiolab great.

May. 27 2011 11:15 AM

There is little chance of that dog surviving. small puffy dogs don't count for mutch in the wilds....

May. 26 2011 05:54 PM
JT from Lebanon, TN

Very sad story... as a dog lover I almost couldn't finish listening to the story.

May. 26 2011 02:55 PM
Mediumjones from Vancouver, BC

Whaaat?! Lulu isn't producing stories with you guys anymore? =(

May. 26 2011 02:46 PM

The "coyotes" on Cape Cod are actually coywolves--a hybrid of coyotes and wolves. They are larger than what one would think of as a "normal" coyote and they do hang out in packs, whereas coyotes are more solitary.

To read about the genetic study:

May. 26 2011 10:37 AM
Jim. from Oakland

I agree with Brian Hare in this short with regards to feral dogs. I feel feral dogs are more the likely culprit. They are found in the unlikeliest of places, even the most populated of Islands. For example, living in Red Hook, Brooklyn a long time ago, I would ride the 61bus late in the evening /early morning. On several occasions I would see a small distinct pack of patchy, mongrel dogs running along the route. In the winter their paw prints were easily traceable through the unploughed streets.From my observations through the bus window, I could easily see a terrier joining up with their ranks. Have hope!

And great show.

May. 24 2011 09:01 PM
SJC from Montana

Afghan hounds can return to a feral lifestyle successfully. As one of the oldest breeds, the afghan hound retains the ability to hunt and fend for itself. Afghan hounds and certain other sight hounds are a terror to coyotes.

My dogs are allowed to hunt live prey. We have no coyote problem on the property.

Here is a true and moving story of a feral afghan hound that was rescued and 're-domesticated'.

May. 23 2011 11:03 AM
Betsy from Thousand Oaks

I have a bone (or two) to pick with you on this podcast. It was a cute story but why did you abandon scientific principles? First, you made it sound like the silver fox experiment happened out in the woods with the researcher killing unfriendly foxes. Please....these were farm foxes caged and grown for their pelts. The unfriendly ones stayed in the fur farm population to become coats. Second, you totally missed the reasons for the the differences between this study, where a few generations resulted in a "domesticated" fox and the "wild dog from a domesticated dog" investigation showing that it took thousands of years to undomesticate. The time differences are due to differences in selective pressure. In the foxes, selection was for one trait; friendly to humans and every animal was subjected to that selection. In the wild, selective pressures are many and traits playing a role in survival are many. The friendly dog has other traits that greatly influence survival and are not tied to friendliness such as speed, fertility, size, disease resistance. Your podcast missed the whole point.

May. 22 2011 05:45 PM
Maiken from NYC

This happened to my dog, Mc Muffin in Tacoma, Washington. There were a couple of coyote sightings that spring but we lived in a very residential area so it was kind of shocking. In her case, it was very clear that she was killed and my dad saw a single coyote afterwords . She was an older dog and similarly to Lulu I have always thought of this as her blaze of glory moment. Thanks for the story.

May. 22 2011 02:01 PM

I am relatively new to this show and am in love with all of it. This was a particularly beautifully written and performed/read piece, thank you for sharing such a private part of your journey. My heart goes out to you and your family.
You guys and gals at Radiolab are really special and we are so lucky to have you telling these incredible stories and sharing these insights exactly the way you do.

May. 21 2011 11:11 PM
Ray Gulick from Santa Fe, NM

Not sure how the expert defines a "pack", but there is no question coyotes work in small groups to lure prey. I've seen it myself.

May. 20 2011 04:17 PM
Marti from Irvine, CA

Out here in California, our experience of coyotes has been been more straightforward than Lulu Miller's. Some years ago, our neighbor's cat was caught right in their front yard. Our neighbor threw something at the coyote, who then dropped the cat, but it was too late. Another friend watched her small dog being torn to shreds and eaten right before her eyes, and this was only a few feet from her door as well. Both these incidents happened just before sunset.

We also had a rabbit taken by a bobcat, but that's a cat story, so I'll leave it.

Here in SoCal, coyotes are a danger to pets, and small children have been threatened and bitten as well, although no humans have been seriously injured that I have heard.

All this is to say, our experience here causes me to be somewhat put off by Lulu's romantic-sounding scenario of her dog's experiencing a glorious moment of wildness before being killed. Honestly, I doubt that, as the eyewitness accounts of coyote attacks I've heard paint a much more painful and excruciating picture.

I don't blame the predators for needing to eat, or the pet owners for what they could not possibly foresee; these things happen. I do harbor a wish that prey animals get some kind of endorphin rush when they know they're going to be eaten, and I hope as well they lose consciousness quickly.

May. 20 2011 12:09 PM

Rando, have you listened to the Wild Talk podcast??? Reading your comment, you will appreciate that episode...

May. 19 2011 10:31 PM

This may sound crazy, but humans change also depending on the environment. Children from rougher neighborhoods tend to mature faster. You can read life in their faces sometimes.

To go even further, people who are silly, tend to have similar facial does the smug bully in school and the quiet shy kid. You can pick out certain personalities without anyone even saying anything...sometimes...

So it does not surprise me that wolves features change to reflect their personalities...

May. 19 2011 10:14 PM
Rene Tsil from The interwebs

I saw a similiar behavior in coyotes, but it wasn't "an invitation to play." One coyote appeared at the top of a small hill, barking furiously at our neighbor's dog. Our neighbor's dog took the challenge and ran barking after the coyote, who disappeared behind the hill. A moment later, the neighbor's dog came running back with his tail between his legs, pursued by three coyotes.

He made it back, but I was never sure if he learned anything...

May. 19 2011 04:48 PM
Erin from Portland, OR

oooh, the recording of the New Guinea Singing Dogs gave me goosebumps! Great show!

May. 19 2011 03:15 PM
Jolly Green from the Ozarks from Missouri

I have lived in the wilderness of the ozarks for a long time, and Lulu is right in her hypothesis. I have lost one dog to coyotes and almost lost another. I had a Border Collie named Nicki. She was a sweet dog. She watched over our cattle, and was great company when I would be out mending fence.
At night we would sit on the front porch and watch the sun set in silence. So silent that nature would begin to emerge from the woods, and begin its nightly rituals completely ignoring our presence.
As we sat there we began to see a coyote jumping around in our field. It was like a playful dance. A dance that had been passed down from mother to cub.
Nicki (Our Border Collie began to whimper, and the urge to run was beginning to take effect in her legs. She started to shake with anticipation of play. Normally, when we gave her a command she obey instantly, but this was something deeper calling to her. I quietly whispered, so not to be heard by the coyote, stay Nicki. She listened for a bit.
Then I started noticing other Coyotes in the dusk of the setting sun. But this one coyote was the only one playing, by itself. It was an interesting sight, but it wasn't the first time I had seen it happen.
Then out of nowhere, I lost my control of Nicki. She bolted off of the front porch as only an extremely fast Border Collie could. So fast, that I didn't have time to reach her.
At break neck speed she ran to join the frolicking coyote. They played for only a few seconds. But then the two other coyotes which I had been watching dove after her.
She fought for a second or two, but it seemed to me like it was for a long period of time. When she realized that she was out matched she ran back in horror.
I could actually see the look of fear in her eyes. She was running straight at me.
The amazing part about what happened next was that the dancing Coyote was in hot pursuit of my dog.
Nicki ran up the porch steps and crouched behind me, and this coyote continued despite my presence.
This is the part that boggled me, but the more time you spend with nature, the more you realize that you can't predict what it will do next.
The Coyote continued up the porch steps, and toward me and my father. My father quick cocked his foot back and struck the coyote in the square in the jaw. The coyote made a yipping sound and darted back to its companions, then they proceeded to run off into the darkening field.
I would have just considered this a fluke, but then it happened again 10 years later, but this time it was with our Poodle/Bichon Frise. Only there was no running back to the porch. It was heart breaking, but when you live out in the country side amongst wild animals you get used to animals dyeing from many causes.

May. 19 2011 12:28 PM
MikeN from NC

Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read.

-Groucho Marx

May. 19 2011 01:46 AM

Yes, let the dogs be free! Aren't they our best friends and so loyal?
I think if Rando's dog is singing with the harmonica; maybe you've got a musical dog, sort of an artiste? :)
Just send your dog to the dog island! haha

May. 18 2011 01:53 PM
James Duguay from Massachusetts

Haven't they determined that east coast coyotes are a result of interbreeding between wolves from Canada and some domestic dog? And that they are pack animals?

May. 18 2011 01:09 PM
Wildlife Gypsy from Northern California

1-Radiolab,. . . .I love you

2-Rando, wolves howling, and coyotes howls and yip-howls are part of their socialization. Your dog is most likely howling, to 'howl' with you,. . . .it's a bonding thing.

3-I am not a coyote expert, but have worked on coyotes before (I am a Wildlife Biolgist), and would like to point out that they do form packs, usually of 4 to 6 (the podcast said they generally don't form packs), and with that they establish territories for each pack.

May. 18 2011 12:54 PM
Rando from Federal Way, Wa

Take it deeper!! When I play my harmonica, my dog sings with me (atleast I call it singing... He never howls otherwise though, but I can't ever be sure)(pretty good at it too, kinda funny), BUT what's that supposed to mean?

Bam!! Episode right there! =oD

I mean, my neighbors ALWAYS yell at their dogs to be "quiet!" when in all reality isn't that how they talk? They prolly got good words to say... and most of us tell em to shut it... kinda sad really, from that aspect...

On the other hand, imagine what in the world a wild dog could have to sing about. What is their music (if any, gotta love speculation) influenced by? Love? Hate? Grunge feeding frenzies? Religion?!?...

Who knows... Cause it's deep...

Am I off topic?

Good Show!

May. 17 2011 10:51 PM

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